Fifth graders spent the week of December 9th  learning to code.   CS Ed week occurs each year during the week of Admiral Grace Hopper's birthday.  Grace Hopper would have celebrated her 107 birthday on Monday, December 9, 2013. If you don't know who Grace Hopper is, she is an extraordinary figure of American history and is credited with producing many of the foundational aspects we view as commonplace in modern computers.  Among other things she gave us the term "debugging" for working out problems in computer code, inspired by a time when she actually had to remove a live moth that interfered with a computer she was working on.

As part of CS Ed Week a non-profit called has organized a MASSIVE learn-to-code movement called "The Hour of Code".  The goal is to see how many Americans - children and adults - will spend one hour during this week learning how to code.  There is a website with dozens of one-hour tutorials for coders of all ages and experience levels.  

The fifth graders worked on the "Angry Bird" tutorials from Go here to find out more:  Learn to Code Once the students have finished all 20 levels they receive a certificate of completion.  If they wish to continue using with the tutorials, they can click on this link to find additional levels.  

The students really enjoyed their experiences.. Now is the time for everyone to learn to code!  Join the movement and participate this week.  What are you waiting for - programming is for EVERYONE!
The fifth graders continued their exploration of what constitutes a computer.  Working in groups of three or four Mrs. Mitzenmacher's class (10-22-2013) and Mrs. Mannering's class (10-23-2013) created a list (from items in the computer class room) that either - Were Computers, Might be Computers, or Definitely NOT Computers.  The students made some pretty insightful observations.

Mr. Kass' class spent time today thinking about the characteristics of a computer. The students wrote their observations on the board.  Together we examined the traits, and determined that the following items are what makes an object a computer:
  • Contains a chip/microprocessor
  • Has memory
  • Has a source of power
  • Follow commands
  • Processes Data

What exactly is a computer?  Where can we find computers? These were some of the questions that the students explored after viewing the movie from, For many the conversation was pretty obvious, but for others, the line between a computer and other "machines" was a bit blurry.  In today's world it is getting harder and harder to make the distinction.  It seems that almost everything MIGHT qualify as a computer.

So what exactly is a computer? A computer is a machine that carries out instructions given to it by a human.  Without instructions, computer wouldn't be able to do anything.  So what can computers do that humans can't?
  • They can work faster than humans,
  • Are more accurate than humans,
  • Can store huge amounts of information that they never "forget"

So in addition to the traditional computer (laptop, desktop, iPad, etc), many of the devices in our homes have an embedded computer (a small silicon chip that carries out stored instructions).  The modern home has over 100 of these computers, built into devices like a toaster, stereo, washing machine, etc.  A modern car may have another 100 or more embedded computers.

Mrs. Bloom's Class

Where are the computers?

The fifth graders first experience with Scratch was a huge success!  After spending about three weeks learning the ins and outs of the Scratch Paint Editor (and the new Scratch 2.0 website) the students have finally finished their dots.  It is a wonder to behold.  With over 100 students, I can say with almost 100% certainty that no two dots look a lot.  But don't take my word for it.  You can view the dots at the Scratch Studio.  By Monday, I will have uploaded all of the dots into the program.  But for now, here is a sneak preview.  Enjoy! 
We continued our celebration of International Dot Day with a reading of the book "The Dot". For anyone who has been afraid to express themselves - from a child in art class to an adult whose fear has shut down a long-held dream, Peter Reynold's book "The Dot" is there to remind us ALL to "Make your mark, and see where it takes you."

Students will be creating their own dots (in Scratch) to be included in the World Museums Dot Day Project.

Students were asked to share Scratch with their parents.


After reading and discussing the book, students viewed 
The World Museums Dot Project 2012 (below)
Ability to produce something new through imaginative skill, 
whether a new solution to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic object or form. 
The term generally refers to a richness of ideas and originality of thinking.
We began the school year exploring the idea of creativity.  Then each student designed a "word cloud" using wordle.